Representation in Court
Interviewer: How often, because of your intervention as an attorney, will someone end up better off than they would have been without an attorney?
Brett Hollett: Honestly, probably almost 100% of the time – especially when it comes to their driver’s license. Without an attorney, their driver’s license is going to be suspended no matter what. With an attorney, their license may never be suspended. If we are unable to avoid a suspension, we can often have that suspension time greatly reduced and may even be able to schedule the suspension time in a way that is more convenient to our client. Meaning, we can negotiate when the suspension will start as well as the length of the suspension.
Interviewer: How would you compare getting a private attorney like yourself to defend a DUI versus a public defender versus trying to defend themselves?
Brett Hollett: Unfortunately, unless somebody is just really indigent, if you get pulled over for a DUI in a municipality, they’re unlikely to even appoint you an attorney for a DUI, especially if it’s a first-time offense. If you wait to go court before hiring an attorney or filing out an application to have an attorney appointed, you’re really putting yourself behind the eight ball. At that point in time, you have probably missed the time sensitive window of opportunity to do anything about your driver’s license. If you are represented by the public defender’s office you have to realize they have so many clients that they may not devote the amount of attention to your case that you probably really deserve or really need, particularly for misdemeanors like DUI. Also, they will not be able to help with regard to your driver’s license suspension. However, for truly indigent people, a public defender can be a very valuable resource.
Interviewer: I heard that even if you are qualified and do get one, you can’t pick who you get, right?
Brett Hollett: Absolutely, yeah. You’re stuck with whoever it is and like I said, they may have ten clients there that day. They may have 100 clients there that day. They may not have an opportunity to really look at your case or look at the evidence or facts surrounding your case.
Interviewer: The driver’s license part is not criminal, right? It’s an administrative part. Can public defenders even the address the driver’s license portion of a DUI?
Brett Hollett: They could, but like I said, from the time you get a public defender, you’re going to have to have gone to court at least one time before you’re even assigned an attorney. At that point in time, you’re going to have missed your procedural deadlines to fight the license suspension. You only have ten days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing. You also have 45 days to request an administrative review. If you don’t do either one of those things, after 45 days from the date of your arrest, your license will be suspended.
Interviewer: What are some of the top misconceptions people have about being arrested for DUI when they first come to you? What makes you tell them, “No, it’s not what you thought; it’s different”?
Brett Hollett: A lot of people thought they could get a hardship license right away, which still isn’t the case. A lot of people think that they’re just doomed, that there is nothing we could do because they admitted the fact that they’d been drinking to the officer or they decided to take the Draeger test here in Alabama and the Draeger result came back with a BAC result higher than 0.08%. They just think there is no hope for their case. We tell them we are here to help. We will thoroughly go through all of the discovery and we can really get to the bottom of what happened. Knowing the case and the circumstances backwards and forwards allows us to work out favorable agreements with the city and the state. Often times we can avoid a DUI conviction altogether and/or greatly reduce the amount of driver’s license suspension time and fines that they may be facing.
Interviewer: Any mistakes that people make that hurt their ability to get a good result in their case either during their arrest or after their arrest?
Brett Hollett: Yeah. I think a lot of people probably talk too much. They’ll probably say more than they should to the officers and that could be an issue. That can be a problem because at that point in time, all they’re basically doing is giving the state or the city more ammunition to use against them. The cases that are the hardest to settle are the ones where people act like big jerks or make a scene and aren’t polite or respectful to an officer. At that point, the officer has tagged them as somebody that’s uncooperative and somebody that will not want to help out when their case comes to court.
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